With all the busy demands on our time made by our business, professional and personal lives, it’s easy to assign a lower priority to networking as an activity designed to meet new people. Your time is valuable. You have to assess key reasons as to why you need to be at your networking meetings consistently.
An excuse that often comes up is, “I have an important meeting with a client and cannot attend.” Really? Have you ever considered that you might have a lot to gain by inviting your client or business acquaintance to your networking meeting, introduce them to others in your network and have your meeting with them after the meeting or reschedule for later. Why wouldn’t you want to help your client widen their center of influence and contacts?
The first time I did this I was scheduled to make a presentation to the group and thought this would be a good time for my client to see me in action. He was impressed that I also gave 4 business referrals to four members.
I know. This may not make sense to some. I’ve been networking long before we called it networking and I have had numerous instances when a client wanted to meet on the day of my networking meeting and I have explained that I have a weekly (or monthly) meeting commitment and would like for them to join me for lunch (or breakfast) with my group. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Several potential clients went so far as to join my group. One client was so impressed with my commitment that she came to the meeting and two of the members actually ended up doing business with her. An unexpected result.
“When was the last time you invited a referral source to a networking event? Introducing him to other businesspeople you know gives your source an opportunity to meet others in your target market and may also provide new business opportunities.” ~ Ivan Misner
The clients you invite to come to the meeting with you do not necessarily have to be a good addition to your group. Your intention is not to recruit them into your group – although that could happen – it’s to allow them to see you in action within your group and to let them be an important part of your networking community for an hour or so. There may be no more powerful way to demonstrate your commitment to networking than to invite them to visit your group with you. Every client that I have ever invited to visit one of my networking meetings has thanked me for the invitation and has been impressed that I would think to do it.
“Networking can be your life support. It can propel you to the next level professionally, while simultaneously enhancing different aspects of your personal life.” ~ Amanda Ebokosia
By the way… let’s stop calling business networking groups “leads” groups! I recommend calling them “referral” groups. There is a distinction that networkers must learn. There is a BIG difference between a lead and a referral. It’s very important to know the difference if you want to be a successful networker. Here’s why. Read: “Is It a Lead or a Referral?”
Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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